gear is gear, even if it’s made in china

Some of you will remember that I fell (while walking) and hurt (sprained severely) both of my knees back in September. I’ve been diligent about going to physical therapy and am making good progress. Part of that progress is getting back on my motorcycle, which is the thing I told the doctor & physical therapists is the only thing that really mattered to me as far as recovery went.

I missed some amazing weather in the first weeks of recovery, and I’m doing my best to make up for it.

(That’s part 1 of the story.)

Some of you will also remember that I moved recently, leaving a 3BR house in Annandale for a 3BR apartment in Fairfax. There’s 2 big things I gave up in that move – a garage and a basement. The main repercussion of giving up the garage & the basement is the loss of all that storage space. The apartment has some great storage space, but it doesn’t compare to having a garage to put hooks on the wall and hang an entire year’s worth of gear, or a basement to hold … well, pretty much anything.

(Thus endeth part 2.)

Now, if you really know me, you’ll remember that my basement, and by extension my garage, had a bit of a moisture problem. The drainage around that house was very poorly done, and I ran a dehumidifier in the basement 24/7, emptying the 2-gallon reservoir literally every day. We had problems with the electricity in the house because the fuse box, mounted on the wall in the garage, constantly had water in it. The entire lower level of the house always smelled musty, and I was always worried about mold.

(You knew it – part 3 ends there!)

It was summer when we moved, so I packed a lot of my cold-weather gear in boxes or tubs for transport to the apartment. Upon opening one of those tubs, I discovered that my 2 favorite pairs of motorcycle gloves had molded.  A lot.  It broke my heart a little to throw out nearly $300 worth of gloves, but once leather molds, it just isn’t ever going to not smell like that.

I very soon bought a new pair of nice BMW sport-touring gloves from Morton’s BMW, 1 of the 3 BMW dealers that’s within an easy (if traffic-filled) ride from where I live.  Great gloves except the thumbs are freaky long, like they were made for some weirdo gray-skinned alien. What they’re not great for, though, is very cold temperatures.

Yesterday, when I rode to physical therapy, it was maybe – MAYBE – 50 degrees and very windy to boot.  Even using the heated grips on my GS, my hands were friggin’ COLD. By the time I got out of physical therapy, I knew there was no way I was riding all the way to Fredericksburg, Gaithersburg or Jessup to go buy a pair of BMW winter gloves.

Walmart? Target? That ski shop in Oakton? Wait, wait, wait.

What riders have to have amazing cold weather gear? The ones that ride those cruisers, which have (for the most part) really poor weather protection, that’s who.

Yes.  Harley riders.

Before you blow a gasket, yes, I know Harley-Davidson make some bikes that have great fairings that offer a lot of weather protection. If I can admit that, then surely you can admit that many Harleys do NOT offer excellent weather protection – and that means that on the rare occasion a Harley rider goes out on a cold day (ok ok look I’m kidding!), they have to have gear that keeps them warm.

The idea hit me to go to Patriot Harley-Davidson, which is maybe a mile from my apartment, and see what they had for cold-weather gloves.

I was happy to see 10 or 12 bikes parked in front of PHD when I pulled up. One guy that came out & got into a car gave me (on my BMW) a really intensely weird look as I parked, but hey, maybe he looks at everybody in a full-face Schuberth helmet with day-glo orange stripes on it like that. I did park discreetly as far from the front door of the dealership as I could, so as not to sully their reputation with a bike that is practical, comfortable, gets great mileage, and … oh come ON! You know I’m kidding!!

The first thing I noticed when I went in was how nice & warm the shop was. Oh, that felt great. The lady at the door greeted me pleasantly, and another woman who was messing with a t-shirt display looked up and said, “Good morning! Can I help you find something?”

HDGloves01“Yes,” I told her. “I need a good pair of winter gloves.”

“Come on right over here, we’ve got a bunch.”

So far, so good. She then proceeded to show me several different pairs of gloves, some with more sporty features, and let me try on as many as I wanted to. I found one I really liked, but realized they wouldn’t go over the outside of my jacket sleeves, so I asked for a similar glove but with a longer gauntlet.  She knew right where they were and all in all, in about 10 minutes I had selected a pair of gloves.

Knowing what I know about BMW-branded gear, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the gloves I chose were only $90. I did hesitate a little when I saw the “Made in China” tag on them, but I figured a lot of stuff is made in China & I can’t avoid all of it – and besides, my HANDS WERE FREEZING COLD!  The clerk-lady that helped me offered (kindly) to put me on their mailing list (I declined) and tried to sell me a couple other things, but I managed to resist the urge to buy anything else.

I wasn’t far from home, but just from wearing them for the few minutes, I could start gauging their quality & fit.

Well constructed. Nice lining.  That was about it in the first 5 minutes.

Last night, though, I rode down to Woodbridge for class. It took an hour & 10 minutes in rush hour traffic. I rode home, too, a 40-minute ride after dark and it was really cold.

Gloves work pretty good!  Well worth the $90 buy-in.  The outer leather shell is relatively thick & will most likely be protective in a slide. The leather is soft and feels more like fashion-weight leather, but the layer is thick enough to block out most of the wind. The inner lining is plush and warm; it’s a little thicker than I like, especially on the palm, but it’s not so thick (especially in the fingers) that it compromises feel on the controls. With my heated grips on low on the cold ride home, my hands were chilly, but comfortable. I was impressed and pleased with my purchase.

These gloves are not as nice (or as warm) as the pair of First Gear gloves I lost to mold, but they also didn’t cost as much.  They’re not as well constructed as my BMW-branded gloves, but again – they didn’t cost as much. They are a good pair of gloves for $90, no doubt about that.

HDGloves02

 

I don’t feel the urge to run out and buy a Harley, but I do have to say the brand has some decent kit. When I was in the shop, I saw a variety of gear, some of which even appealed to me – and not all of it was all leather, either, which was a big surprise. Some of it wasn’t even black! The clerk even asked me about my helmet!!!!

Anyway, I’m posting this less as a product review and more of a reminder that gear is gear, even if it’s H-D branded and made in China. The point of the gear is to keep you comfortable and protected, so wear that gear!

This is also part confession, as I’m sure my BMW-riding friends are sure to give me a healthy dose of shit – not for stepping into a Harley dealership, but for buying Harley-branded gear… and maybe getting the H-D shield tattooed on my bicep.

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